UK & World News
Cheek-By-Jowl Fighting In Rural Syria
Syrian government troops and opposition fighters are now based so close to each other in some areas, they could shout at one another.
Along a 20-mile stretch of highway leading from Homs to Hama, we saw a trail of destruction interspersed with army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) units.
The road was completely deserted except for our car and two UN vehicles we were following.
The regular army are in sandbagged bunkers and disused houses backed by armoured personnel carriers and tanks. The FSA are nowhere to be seen, until you stop.
Each time we pulled over, within seconds, FSA men appeared in broad daylight, within several hundred yards of the regular army units.
Most of them were happy with us filming. They offered us bread and told their version of events - that government forces were shelling villages indiscriminately, including using helicopters to fire on targets.
On three occasions we saw helicopters above us and heard, but did not see, what we thought was the sound of one firing a missile.
We continually crossed the lines from army to FSA controlled territory. At one army base we asked for permission to film, but were refused.
This is a continuing problem in covering the two versions of the Syrian conflict.
The opposition has an increasingly sophisticated propaganda machine including the use of Skype and YouTube, while government officials rarely appear and rarely give the sort of access to its military, which might help portray them as the young, often anxious, soldiers some are, and not "monsters".
There's little doubt the government has forces involved in terrible acts, but so does the FSA, who have taken to assassinating civilians working for the government and, it is claimed by the soldiers, shooting and torturing prisoners. We cannot verify this.
One junior officer at the army base swore at us and insulted our mothers, grandmothers, and down into a long line of our ancestors.
"You don't tell the truth," he said. "You don't care about us, and then you go home."
The men said FSA fighters in the village of Talbisseh had killed 25 of their colleagues on Sunday - some were beheaded.
Just 200 yards away in the village we found dozens of FSA fighters. They offered us bread and showed us the damage to the area, which was extensive.
A few were hostile. Because we had Syrian visas in our passports they accused us of being spies as we had entered the country with the co-operation of the government.
In two hours in the village we saw just three women and two children.
The 20-mile journey gave us a snapshot of how mixed-up, complicated and messed-up this situation is.
The cheek-by-jowl fighting is mostly in rural areas, but if things in this civil war continue in their current trajectory, the same situation could develop in the cities.